Saturday, January 22, 2011


Altarpiece for the Pigment and Oil with the Madonna and Child Enthroned

Following my desire to construct something for the interim show I created this altarpiece. The idea was to play with the relationship between image & material (the church and painting) moving a traditional medieval style altarpiece into something that brought the paint into the iconography.

In a way I wanted the Madonna to become a icon of the church and that style of painting while the child has become a material icon. The subtlety of this transition still leaves an intensely religious and recognizable image, yet, there is something untoward happening.

The dissolution of the traditional early renaissance aesthetic is visible
towards the sides of the central panel where the figures are collapsing/dissolving into abstraction and the whim of paint. This leads out to the 4 outer panels which are purely abstract and indulge in the gesture and character of paint, removing the typical iconography found in these panels such as the Crucifixion and annunciation.

The function of this contemporary altarpiece in the context of their availability in galleries and museums is as a redevelopment of previous work. It plays with the images of religion we already hold in our minds. While society has become much more secular leaving the whole idea of an altarpiece seemingly redundant paint has in some ways gained more significance over time, the
value of the religious icon may be lost but the material has survived and can become an icon itself.


  1. Rob
    I would like to continue the discussion from the crit. I really think you need to think about how you can build on the implications of this piece. I think the madonna figure is too central, but a combination of the smeary, 'de-figured' painterly space, and the construction (mixture of gold leaf + 'unfinished, bashed-up wood ....that could be a killer combo!

  2. Thanks Jeff, yes I think the significance and explicit style of the image of the Madonna can steer the viewer away from what I wanted them to experience. I am thinking about how I can incorporate the wood/gold leaf framing aspect into new work and I think the relationship between this and the abstracted painterly space does create some exciting possibilities.